U.S. Senate Overwhelming Votes to Overhaul NCLB!

Dear Commons Community,

The U.S. Senate voted 81-17 to overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act yesterday, passing a bipartisan bill that gives states more flexibility to hold schools accountable for students’ test scores. As reported in The Huffington Post:

“Everyone wants to fix No Child Left Behind,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) after the vote was counted. “That’s the consensus we began with.”

The overwhelming vote passed the Every Child Achieves Act, a bipartisan proposal sponsored by Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash). The bill keeps in place current federal testing requirements but gives states more freedom to determine how to hold schools and teachers accountable for students’ test scores. The current testing schedule mandates that schools test children in reading and mathematics every year in grades three through eight and again once between grades nine through 12.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of a NCLB overhaul last week called the Student Success Act.

“This is a complicated piece of legislation,” Alexander said. “There are crocodiles in every corner.” The fact that it passed with a wide margin despite these complexities, he said, is “remarkable.”

“I am so proud that our bill… is a strong step in the right direction to finally fix” NCLB, Murray said. It was a compromise, she added: “It wasn’t the bill I would have written on my own.”

However, the bill’s next steps are unclear, since even its supporters concede President Barack Obama is unlikely to sign it in its current form.

“I commend the hard work of Senator Alexander, Senator Murray, and their colleagues to get us this far,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “However, this bill still falls short of truly giving every child a fair shot at success by failing to ensure that parents and children can count on local leaders to take action when students are struggling to learn.” Duncan’s thoughts echo those of several civil rights groups that oppose the bill because they say its accountability measures don’t go far enough. The bill would also need to be reconciled with the NCLB overhaul the House passed, which Obama has suggested he would veto.”

Regardless of the future of this bill, it is good to see that Republicans and Democrats can agree on legislation that is so important to our children and their education.


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